Gov. Wolf confirms Bill Green replaced as SRC chair

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Monday, March 2, 2015
VIDEO: Chairman ousted
Gov. Tom Wolf has removed the chairman of Philadelphia's School Reform Commission a week after the panel drew his ire for approving five new charter schools.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Gov. Tom Wolf, who replaced the chairman of Philadelphia's School Reform Commission partly because of his support for additional charter schools in the cash-strapped city, will discuss his plan for charter reform in Tuesday's budget address.

The Democrat "will discuss greater charter oversight in his budget," spokesman Jeff Sheridan said Monday of Wolf's scheduled speech before a joint session of the Legislature.

Wolf made headlines Sunday night when he confirmed he was replacing commission chairman Bill Green with commissioner Marjorie Neff, a former principal with 40 years' experience who Wolf says shares his vision for the 200,000-student district.

Sheridan said there were multiple reasons for the shakeup, but the governor was disappointed by Green's support for more privately run and publicly financed charter schools after Wolf had emphasized that he opposed any new charters because of the district's dire financial situation.

"The district was forced to make major cutbacks in transportation, security, and janitorial services just to open on time last year," Wolf said in a statement Sunday. "We must make new investments in education and provide a fresh path forward for Philadelphia's schools."

The commission has governed the district in place of a school board since 2001 under a law passed in response to the district's perennial money troubles. The governor appoints three members, the mayor two.

Green said Monday he intends to mount a court challenge to Wolf's authority to remove him as chairman. A Democrat appointed to the commission by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett last year, Green will remain one of the five commissioners.

"I think it's very important to establish that the chairman of the SRC can act and vote his conscience without fear from political influence," he said.

In central Pennsylvania, Wolf is monitoring the situation in the 7,500-student York City School District, where a Corbett-appointed chief recovery officer has proposed making the public schools the first in the state to be turned into charter schools.

A judge has approved the Corbett administration's plan for the appointee, David Meckley, to take over the school district and place it in receivership. That would allow Meckley to pursue his plan without approval from the school board.

The school district and employee unions have appealed the ruling to Commonwealth Court.

Wolf "has been clear that he opposes the 'charterization' of the school district," Sheridan said, but has not intervened at this point.